Tag Archives: women writers

Guest Article from Suzie Tullett: Living Outside Your Box as a Woman Writer

Taking on Individual Roles in Life: Living Outside the Box
by Suzie Tullett, author of Little White Lies and Butterflies

In my experience, when it comes to certain relationships we’re very often put in boxes. We’re expected to behave and think in a certain way according to our role.

Of course over time expectations change, alongside the societies we live in.

Take us women, for example. Once of a day we were simply expected to manage the home, support our men and raise our children. Not that any of these tasks were, indeed are, ever all that simple! However, thanks to changing times being the perfect homemaker is no longer our sole responsibility. We’re now expected to bring home at least some of the bacon on top of everything else; apparently multi-tasking is something we’re good at.

Naturally, I don’t think this is a bad thing. The contributions we women make are just as valid outside of the home as they are inside. And women have fought hard for us to gain the rights we enjoy today.

But wouldn’t it be fun to be able to fly in the face of what’s expected of us just once in a while? I mean, imagine our colleagues’ faces if we turned up at the office wearing a onesie; Or if we decided to give up the day job completely as well as the household chores, in favour of setting up a new world religion.

That’s why it’s fun to be a fiction writer. If we so choose, we can write characters who for whatever reason feel able to do and say many of the things we, in reality, probably wouldn’t. Our characters can disregard all things conventional – albeit, in a way that’s completely understandable considering their histories and personalities.

But when it comes to penning our stories, we as writers can blur the lines of who our relationships dictate we be too.

Take me as a mother of two sons. One of them waits until my novels are a bone fide book before he opens the first page; the other gets a little more involved in the writing process. He tells me what’s working, what’s not quite on the page in the way I might think it is and I have to say he’s an excellent spell checker. But whatever role my children do or don’t take, in reading my work at whatever stage they have the opportunity to see me outside of the box that our relationship puts me in. It enables them to learn a bit more about the way I tick not just as their mother, but as an individual in my own right.

 Little White Lies and Butterflies, Synopsis~                  

9781908208194_covA child of the nineties, Lydia Livingston is different. The last thing she’s ever wanted is to be superwoman; she knows first-hand that ‘having it all’ isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be. As far as she’s concerned, when it comes to job versus family, it’s a definite case of one or the other. And whilst most women her age have spent years climbing the corporate ladder, she’s made a career out of bagging her perfect man. At almost thirty and still single, Lydia wonders if she’d made the right choice all those years ago. And realising the time has come to take stock, she goes against her family’s wishes and banishes herself off to a distant land- all in the hope of finding a new direction.

At least that’s the plan.
But Lydia Livingston isn’t just different, she’s misunderstood. A fact she knows all too well. So when the totally unsuitable Sam comes along, she decides to tell a little white lie, re-inventing herself as a professional chef- not exactly the best new identity to come up with for a woman who can’t even cook. Of course, the last thing she expects is for him to find out the truth and start blackmailing her. Let alone find herself roped into catering for a local wedding. But with things going from bad to worse, her madder than mad family also turn up in something of a surprise visit, intent on celebrating a birthday she’s no intentions of celebrating!

Suzie Tullett, Biography~

Born and raised in Lancashire, Suzie Tullett has worn many hats in life: from office work to teaching, from managing an advice center to being an outreach worker for Women’s Aid. She’s achieved a Bachelor’s and a Master’s and works with the BBC as a scriptwriter—all while raising her family. Ultimately, she wants to leave scriptwriting behind and write full-time. She says “it’s fair to say my working life has given me the chance to get to know all kinds of people, from all kinds of backgrounds; a definite asset for anyone looking to write for a living.”


Filed under Guest Posts

City of Lights by Melika Lux Sets the Stage for Intrigue, Drama, Love and Triumphs in Historical France

COL CoverMelika Dannese Lux brings a tale in City of Lights that is like opening night on the stage. The velvet curtains draw and a dramatic story of romance, heartbreak, and murderous intentions ensue. Her writing moves along like we are watching a play or an opera.  It’s full of enough vigor you might think you are taking part in a fast-moving stage production such as  Phantom of the Opera. I felt that full onstage theater effect can be visualized with this novel, including scene changes, giving us entertainment straight from 1894 France.

As one major turmoil after the other is quickly unfolded we are drawn immediately into the story and begin to understand Lux’s French protagonist Illyse Charpentier, otherwise known as Diva of the Paris stage.  Life is hard behind the curtains, with countless hours of hard work for little prestige or money.  Along with this lonely existence, she carries a strong resentment toward her rich suitor, Count Sergei Rakmanovich, but when she is thrown by fate into a love for an Englishman with a funny bone, Ian McCarthy, she knows that her world is about to change.

As Illyse’s terrible childhood and reason for becoming a chanteuse comes to light, we can feel her intense pain and her mourning for her family, including her brother, who has since left her life due to the Count’s demands on Illyse. As was common in turn of the century France, these suitors many times kept unhealthy, scandalous, illicit, and controlling ties on performers in exchange for paying for their rent and fame.

As Illyse tries to break that bind, the Count is enraged and the story’s pace leaps even more as we see the twists and turns each person takes in order to get what they want. Will the deep love at first sight between Illyse and Ian win out in the end? You’ll have to read and see for yourself, but you most certainly will find yourself pulling for them.

As I could visualize the Count in a black cape sweeping the back alleys in secret, his minions eavesdropping, I could hear the orchestra’s dark music surrounding me.  But I could also feel the bright sections where Illyse’s trials are overcome by the light of true love and simple life of family and respect for herself. Lux descriptive settings and emotional reflection of her characters is magnificent.

With details dripping in scandal, a musical score you’ll be playing in your head, and a woman fighting for her love, life, dreams, and family, you’ll not want to miss out on reading this concise dramatic tale. 

I recommend that you pick up City of Lights, choose one night that you have a chance to settle in with some wine, then picture yourself reading at a quaint table under the decadent lights of the Eiffel Tower……just be sure to look over your shoulder to see if the Count is peering at you of course.

PLEASE COME BY AGAIN ON FRIDAY, APRIL 12, 2013!! We discuss life in the Parisian entertainment industry in the late 1800s, women in history, and why she chose writing over sharks!

City of Lights: The Trials and Triumphs of Illyse Charpentier, Synopsis~

COL CoverPublication Date: October 23, 2012
Books in My Belfry, LLC
Paperback; 166p
ISBN-10: 0615708269

What would you risk for the love of a stranger?

Ilyse Charpentier, a beautiful young chanteuse, is the diva of the 1894 Parisian cabaret scene by night and the unwilling obsession of her patron, Count Sergei Rakmanovich, at every other waking moment.

Though it has always been her secret desire, Ilyse’s life as “La Petite Coquette” of the Paris stage has turned out to be anything but the glamorous existence she had dreamt of as a girl. As a young woman, Ilyse has already suffered tragedy and become estranged from her beloved brother, Maurice, who blames her for allowing the Count to drive them apart.

Unhappy and alone, Ilyse forces herself to banish all thoughts of independence until the night Ian McCarthy waltzes into her life. Immediately taken with the bold, young, British expatriate, Ilyse knows it is time to choose: will she break free and follow her heart or will she remain a slave to her patron’s jealous wrath for the rest of her life?

Praise for City of Lights

“This debut novel about the extraordinary chanteuse Ilyse Charpentier is as irresistible as a glass of champagne by the Seine. Combining romance, adventure, and the crystalline lights of a bygone era, this sparkling tale sweeps the reader into the foibles and glamour of 19th century Paris, and the bold heart of a woman who must risk everything for love. Ms. Lux enchants with her talent; I’m looking forward to reading more from this lovely young writer.”

– C. W. Gortner, bestselling author of The Last Queen, The Confessions of Catherine de Medici, The Tudor Secret, and The Queen’s Vow

“City of Lights: The Trials and Triumphs of Ilyse Charpentier is a triumph for its young author. You are immediately pulled into this debut novel and held there by the breathtaking pace set by Miss Lux. It is the story of chanteuse, Ilyse Charpentier, who has had more heartache than a 21-year old should have to bear: the death of her parents in a ship accident; abuse at the hand of her guardian; and estrangement from her beloved brother because of a misunderstanding. Lifted out of poverty by her patron, Count Sergei Rakmanovich, she becomes the darling of the 1894 Parisian cabaret scene, but the count’s patronage comes with a price: his desire to possess her, mind, body and soul.

This is a remarkable debut, especially when you consider that the novelist is very near to the age of her heroine. Her broad knowledge of history and the arts is evident, and her enthusiasm for her subject leaps off of every page. A spectacular first effort.”

– Mary L. Simonsen, author of Searching for Pemberley, A Wife for Mr. Darcy, and numerous other bestsellers

Melika Dannese Lux, Biography~

Melika LuxI write historical fiction, suspense, supernatural thrillers, horror, fantasy, sci-fi, short stories—you name it, I write it! I love to read just about anything and everything and am particularly fond of historical fiction, the classics, mysteries, epic fantasy, history, and non-fiction. I am also a classically trained soprano/violinist/pianist and have been performing since the age of three. Additionally, I hold a BA in Management and an MBA in Marketing.

I am a HUGE fan of Psych, most British drama, comedy, and mystery shows, and am always up for a movie quote challenge. Jaws is my favorite movie of all time, with The Lord of the Rings being a very close second. Tell me something about yourself, and I’ll most probably be able to “Six Degrees of Separation” it back to Gandalf.

Lastly, I love to spend time with my family and friends, and I absolutely adore traveling. Not only is it great to experience other cultures, but travelling expands my horizons as a writer and sets my imagination reeling with a million different ideas for stories. If I hadn’t decided to become a writer (And there’s a Gandalf story for that, too.), I would have become a marine biologist, but after countless years spent watching Shark Week, I realized I’m very attached to my arms and legs and would rather write sharks into my stories than get up close and personal with those toothy wonders.

I am currently working on the sequel to my supernatural thriller/historical novel Corcitura, a collection of comedy/horror/fantasy stories set in Eastern Europe in the 1800s, and the first book of a planned fantasy duology. To learn more, please visit www.booksinmybelfry.com.

Link to Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/cityoflightsvirtualtour/
Twitter Hashtag: #CityOfLightsVirtualTour

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Filed under Book Reviews

Insightful Interview with Delancey Stewart, Author of NYC Historical Short Story Collection

Hi, Delancey! So happy to meet you and have you come by the site today for an interview. I am looking forward to getting to know you. How are you?

Wonderful! Thanks so much for having me! I’m looking forward to getting to know you, too!

Let’s get started then, have a seat in my virtual café….

Q:  Your book, Through a Dusty Window, is a collection of short stories sectioned from each decade of mostly the 20th Century.  Such a unique idea – where did your inspiration come from?

A:  When I lived in New York – first on the Upper West Side and then later down in Chelsea – I spent a lot of time wondering who had lived in my apartments before I did. The buildings were both pre-war buildings (in this case meaning pre-WWI), so both had seen plenty of history before I lived there. The building in Chelsea was especially interesting to me. I had a studio apartment, and the front door had been created on an angle, the same as the one across the hall. Between my apartment and that one, we split the first half of the second floor, and it felt quite obvious at some point those doors had been added, and the wall between us inserted. Since it was a brownstone building, I imagined that at one point it’d been a single-family home like the one that I wrote about in the book. I have never been able to find a history of that particular building, though.

The concept of the buildings standing as quiet sentinels above and around us while we lead our lives beneath and inside them was what got me started on the concept for Through a Dusty Window.

Q:  I like the idea of glimpsing out an upper city window and imagining how life was at different eras of time in a same locale. Why do you feel showing the phases of history is so important?

A:  Each story in the book tries to capture a mood that indicates a bit of what was going on at that time in history. For someone to really understand a city like New York, you have to learn about its history. How did it come to be the way it is today? I think every generation discovers things anew, but it’s important to look backwards and see what lessons we might learn from those who’ve come before.

Q:  Do you catch yourself daydreaming? If so, what do you imagine?

A:  Always. Usually about a quiet house. (I have two very noisy little boys!)

Erin Comments: haha! I have 3 children too and can relate!

Q:  What do you feel was the most creative and/or inspiring time in history?

A:  My grasp of history in its entirety is not great…I only really study the times that are interesting to me. That said, I read anything I can find about the 20s. I feel like in some ways it might have been a little like the 90s – a mad rage before a devastating fall. I love stories about flappers and Prohibition, anything about the scads of writers and artists working in Paris at that time.

Erin comments: Me too, I love 1900s in NYC and Paris and how that Paris culture crossed over to our culture, within the arts. Now people don’t realize how much French influence we have in American life.

Q:  What do you feel has been the most instrumental “window” in history for women?

A:  That is not an easy question to answer, but I think that for the US, WWII was an important period for women specifically. While the bulk of men went to fight, women found themselves in positions they’d never dreamed of. They replaced the men who left in all facets of professional life, and many learned that they were not only interested in professional achievement, but that they had talent and intelligence that allowed them to excel at it. I think that era changed what women went on to expect from life and started the movement we are still experiencing, where women believe that they might be able to have both a fulfilling professional life and a satisfying family life.

Q:  Which story, if any, is your personal favorite in the collection, and why?

A:  I’ve loved “The Harbinger” best since I wrote it. I think there’s a very relatable tragedy there – something that people might be able to identify with on several levels. That story hinges around the concept of feeling understood and being truly understood, and attempts to illustrate what a difficult thing it is, to really understand someone else. I think many of us take those around us for granted, believing that we know them well, and in the process of that belief we build boxes to put people inside that make it impossible for them to ever change – at least in our minds.

Erin comments: I said that in my review, that I liked “The Harbinger” the best. I agree, trying to categorize people, especially women, is a common trait and the world would be better if we didn’t do so.

Q:  On to writing, do you feel that women writers should “schedule” time for themselves to write?  Why do women feel so guilty sometimes about pursuing dreams?

A:  Writing, like any other profession or serious hobby, takes commitment and that certainly means time. I definitely never got any traction until I found a schedule that I was willing to commit to and held myself to it. With two boys under the age of six, and a “day job,” that means getting up at five so that I can get one full, uninterrupted hour to write. I do that at least five days a week, and it’s the only guaranteed time I get.

I think women are taught to be caregivers, and in our efforts to pursue our dreams we are only taking care of ourselves. It’s easy to decide to feel guilty about that, but I really believe that guilt is a choice. The only person who can make you feel guilty is yourself. If your dreams are not important enough to you to stand up for them and declare that you will pursue them without feeling that you are hurting someone else in the process, then that is a choice as well. My mother always taught me to take care of myself first. She loves to quote the adage, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy,” and at my house, it’s absolutely true. (P.S. My mother doesn’t use the word “ain’t” except when saying this. She was an English teacher!)

Q:  What advice do you have for other writers?

A:  If you want to be a writer, then write! Put aside everything that you believe is stopping you, including your own critical voices. I cannot guarantee you success – because that is determined by your individual definition of the word and also by any number of outside factors depending on that definition. But I can guarantee that you will fail if you never try.

Q:  Lately I’ve interviewed several journalists and/or PR people who’ve transitioned to fiction writing. How do you feel your transition has been – does it make it easier or harder to write fiction with a non-fiction writing background?

A:  I think it helps in some ways. If nothing else, you have the experience of having sat down regularly to write. The blank page becomes less intimidating. It also helps to have had to think in a linear fashion about telling a story – whether truth or fiction. And having a PR and marketing background can only be a help in this day when authors are also the biggest promoters of their own work!

Erin comments: I always say, the more you write, then the more you write!! And having all that background myself, I certainly agree.

Q:  What other interests do you have in addition to writing?

A:  I am a ballet dancer and love spending time in the gym or going for a run. I have to move regularly or life doesn’t work for me. I’m kind of a wine snob, and I’m definitely an ice cream snob, if there is any such thing! I also love gardening, and I tend to read a lot, but that probably goes without saying!

Erin comments: Yes, I am also an ice cream snob. We can start a club. Except I don’t run mine off. lol

Q: What authors have inspired you?

A:  It depends on what day you ask. Lately I’ve been blown away by Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief, and Katja Millay’s The Sea of Tranquility. I have a growing fondness for Hemingway, who I used to say I despised. I love Fitzgerald, admire George Saunders, and enjoy Philippa Gregory.

Q:  Favorite television shows or movies at the moment?

A: I am in love with Game of Thrones, and am enjoying Revenge as well. I watch The Vampire Diaries, though feel like it’s losing steam, and think I’ve finally given up on Grey’s Anatomy, which was a constant for the past few years. I watch Gossip Girl as a study in plot twists! I was hooked on Breaking Pointe when it was on, and if we subscribed to cable, I’d be glued in front of HGTV at all hours.

Q:  Where can readers connect with you?

A:  I have a blog at: delanceystewart.wordpress.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/delancey.stewart

Twitter: @DelanceyStewart

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6581742.Delancey_Stewart

Thank you so very much for coming by and talking with me today. I look forward to keeping in touch with you and sharing writing stories and wish you continued success!

I had a great time – thanks for such thoughtful questions! This was lots of fun!

Through a Dusty Window, Synopsis~

Brownstone townhousePublication Date: November 15, 2012
Paperback; 108p
ISBN-10: 0615731023

It’s impossible to live in a city like New York without feeling the presence of those who have preceded you – on those streets, in those subway cars, in that apartment. The city thrums with vibrations of lives and eras passed, and traces of that history are left imprinted in tangible ways everywhere we look.

Through a Dusty Window is a collection of ten short stories spanning a century of lives inhabiting one New York City brownstone on the Upper West Side. They are the culmination of the author’s experience in that city, during which she wondered constantly who had occupied her apartment before her, and what stories they might have lived.

Ten vignettes offer historical perspective on real events from Prohibition to World War II; the Vietnam-era Summer of Sam killings to John Lennon’s murder.

Through a Dusty Window allows us to be voyeurs, seeing the fascinating lives of others as they experience the history that New Yorkers today hear whispers of around every corner.

Delancey Stewart, Biography~

Delancey StewartDelancey Stewart is a fiction writer living in Southern Maryland. She’s a military spouse and the mother of two small boys. When not writing, she can be found ballet dancing, eating ice cream, playing video games or building with Legos.

For more information, please visit Delancey Stewart’s website. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter.





Link to Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/throughadustywindowvirtualtour/
Twitter Hashtag: #DustyWindowVirtualTour
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